Dweck, C. S., & Leggett, E. L. (1988). A social-cognitive approach to motivation and personality. Psychological Review, 95(2), 256-273.

Dweck and Leggett present a research-based model that accounts for major cognition-affect-behaviour patterns, and is built around goals and goal-oriented behaviour. This includes a helpless pattern of responses that is characterised by general avoidance of challenge and a drop in performance when the individual is presented with blocks or obstacles towards goal attainment, Secondly, the mastery-orientated pattern is presented that, in contrast to the helpless pattern, is characterised by the seeking of challenges and maintaining motivation and performance in the face of obstacles, particularly failure. Also presented is the generality and possible utilisation of the model for understanding domains beyond the original context of task performance in children, withthe implications of such a model explored.


Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House Digital, Inc.

Dweck introduces two types of people; those with a growth mindset, and those with a fixed. A fixed mindset refers to those people who see an individual’s skills and abilities, such as intelligence, as fixed and unlikely to change. Whereas those with a growth mindset would see intelligence as something could be trained and developed. Dweck continues, discussing the huge implications holding either mindset can hold for professions such as teaching and why we should try to cultivate a growth mindset in ourselves and others.


Elliot, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. (1988). Goals: An Approach to Motivation and Achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 5-12.

The study tested the framework in which learning or performance goals are proposed to be central determinants of achievement. 101 fifth-grade school boys and girls participated in the study, completing a pattern recognition task that was sufficiently complex in order for the children to be unsure of their response, allowing for the experimenter to provide the child with randomly assigned high or low ability feedback. A second experimenter, who was blind to the previous ability feedback was then introduced and presented children with either a performance task box where the child was informed they would not learn anything new, but there were three levels of difficulty to choose from; easy, moderate, and hard. A second, learning task box was also presented whereby the child was informed that they would learn a lot of new things, but probably make some mistakes. After deciding, all participants completed the same shape discrimination task that was identical for both performance and learning boxes. Those children within the performance goal, low perceived ability condition demonstrated patterns of failure attributed to low skill, negative affect, and strategy deterioration, with the authors commenting on the similarities between these patterns and those found within learned helplessness.

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